One passenger dies, dozens escape as casino shuttle burns off Florida


(PORT RICHEY, Fla.) — At least one passenger has died after a boat shuttling patrons to a casino vessel off the Gulf Coast was engulfed by flames Sunday afternoon, with other passengers and crew escaping by jumping into the water, the Washington Post reported.

Port Richey Police Chief Gerard DeCanio said the shuttle boat, Island Lady, experienced engine problems shortly after its 4 p.m. departure, then turned back to shore as a fire broke out. There were 50 people — 36 passengers and 14 crew — on board as Island Lady headed to Tropical Breeze Casino, an offshore boat.

Fifteen people were hospitalized for chest pain, smoke inhalation and other injuries initially reported as not life-threatening, authorities said. On Monday, a spokesman for Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point said one female passenger taken there died Sunday night.

A spokeswoman for Tropical Breeze Casino said the cause of the fire was not yet known, and the boat had no previous issues.

Video taken by local news stations and witnesses shows flames and dark smoke billowing from Island Lady and passengers leaping into the water.

Click here to read the story. Click here to see a video of the fire.

By Professional Mariner Staff